OneWeb and SpaceX, two private companies that send satellites to space, have nearly crashed against each other. Surprisingly, OneWeb blames SpaceX for the incident.
On Saturday, April 10, the Business Insider reported tons of SpaceX and OneWeb satellites dangerously experienced close-interaction with each other. OneWeb’s newly-launched satellites nearly crashed against SpaceX’s with only 190 feet apart. The Verge said in its report that the US Space Force 18th Space Control Squadron sent ‘red alerts’ on both companies due to the near impact. Luckily, there were no damages on the said incident, but who’s party to blame on this?
OneWeb vs. SpaceX
SpaceX is the most famous private space company, currently led by the second richest man in the world, Elon Musk. Aside from shipping humans to the International Space Station using their top-notched rockets, this company has also lead the world into launching internet satellites into space, in order to be used by humans.
OneWeb company is also on the same page with SpaceX. Just like Elon’s company, OneWeb has also launched numerous satellites to space, in order to start their orbiting. Recently, OneWeb blasted a new batch of 36 satellites.
Though this number didn’t even get close enough to what SpaceX have had already launched in space, it still has the capability to collide with SpaceX’s satellites. And that is what nearly happened last week.
OneWeb said that their satellites have tip-toed in order to pass by within the SpaceX’s satellites. Luckily, the former company dodged the latter satellites in order for them to get to their targeted orbit. Unfortunately, OneWeb seems to have an explanation with what happened.
OneWeb blames SpaceX
OneWeb’s satellites operate at an orbit roughly 550 km higher than SpaceX’s Starlink. This means, the possibility of them hitting against each other in space can really happen. Fortunately, the Starlink company has an automated AI-powered collision-avoidance system, in order to stop this from happening.
However, to OneWeb’s surprise, SpaceX suddenly disabled this feature. As explained by the latter company, this was only done to give their rival company an opportunity to drive its satellites out of the way. This stirred controversy against SpaceX.
“Coordination is the issue. It is not sufficient to say ‘I’ve got an automated system,’ because the other guy may not have, and won’t understand what yours is trying to do,” according to Chris McLaughlin, chief of government, regulation, and engagement at OneWeb.
“This event was a good example of how satellite operators can be responsible given the constraints of global best practices,” says Diana McKissock, the head of the Space Force 18th Space Control Squadron’s data sharing and spaceflight safety wing. “They shared their data with each other, they got in contact with each other, and I think in absence of any global regulation, that’s… the art of the possible.”
SpaceX, as of now, did not comment on any issues pertaining to the possible collision. They also didn’t release any further explanations on the reason behind the sudden disabling of the collision-avoidance system.
Which party do you think should be blamed on this?